Sequoia enters Pakistan with investment in fintech

The largest early-stage fundraising round in Pakistan was completed by the fintech business Dbank, and Sequoia Capital entered the startup sector for the first time.

Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia and Kleiner Perkins co-led the seed round that garnered $17.6 million for Dbank. Local collaborator Askari Bank Ltd., RTP Global, Nubank, a digital banking platform, and Rayn also took part.

Pakistan, the fifth-most populated country in the world, gained attention last year when it announced a record $350 million in startup funding. The South Asian country’s economy is still in its infancy.

The country is still facing the effects of the global recession, as seen by the suspension of food delivery by Careem Inc., a division of Uber Technologies Inc., and the closure of Airlift Technologies Pvt. after raising the largest round ever in the country last year.

Tania Aidrus and Khurram Jamali, two ex-Google employees who had collaborated for more than a decade, founded Dbank. With a goal of operating in the Pan-Islamic world, the company has applied to become a digital retail bank in Pakistan.

According to Mamoon Hamid, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, Pakistan is a market with enormous potential. According to the World Bank, the country has 110 million adult residents who lack access to financial services, making it the third-largest unbanked country after China and India.